Performance Sunday, February 8, 2015 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Two second symphonies: Beethoven’s rooted in the Classical era and Schumann’s quintessentially Romantic, frame daring works by strikingly original 20th-century composers. Beethoven’s genial Symphony No. 2 is highly energetic and owes much to the symphonies of Haydn, while Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 features a melancholy third-movement Adagio that has one of the most breathtakingly beautiful melodies ever written.


  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director and Conductor
  • Elina Garanca, Mezzo-Soprano


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2
  • BERG Seven Early Songs
  • CARTER Three Illusions
  • SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


Schumann's Symphony No. 2 (Adagio espressivo)
Berliner Philharmoniker | James Levine, Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36

Beethoven’s evolution as a symphonist was swift; only three years separated the completion of his still very Classical, Haydnesque First Symphony and that of the iconoclastic, revolutionary “Eroica,” which charted a new path not only for Beethoven, but for all Western music. In between, in late 1801 and 1802, the composer wrote his Symphony No. 2, which bridges the wide stylistic gulf between the works that bracket it on either side.

ALBAN BERG Seven Early Songs

Within the first few years of his apprenticeship with Schoenberg, Berg was producing extremely accomplished and inventive music, including the Sieben frühe Lieder (Seven Early Songs). Written between 1905 and 1908 but not published (or orchestrated) until 1928, the songs were originally conceived as a diverse, carefully chosen collection of independent numbers that work well together in performance.

ELLIOTT CARTER  Three Illusions

Carter was an intellectual titan whose music ranged from neoclassical to thoroughly and thornily avant-garde, and everything in between. Among the 20th and 21st centuries’ most prolific, accomplished, and influential composers, he was one of America’s greatest musical figures. Each of the Three Illusions is a response to a seminal piece of the literary canon—“Micomicón” to Don Quixote, “Fons Juventatis” to Roman mythology, and “Utopia” to Thomas More’s work of the same name.

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

Although the Second Symphony was the first major work Schumann composed after emerging from a mental breakdown that struck in August 1844, it is not glum, despairing music. In fact, three of the symphony’s four movements are in the sunny key of C major, and though there are moments of uncertainty and shadow, the music does not broadcast its composer’s psychosis. This music clearly shows the ongoing evolution of Schumann’s symphonic style—including recognition for his symphonic forebears, chiefly Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert—as well as his love and gratitude for his wife Clara, to whom he owed much of his recovery.

This performance is part of The MET Orchestra, and Sunday Afternoons.